Menstruation and Piercings
Menstruation! This is the natural cycle by which folks with uterus’ prepare for pregnancy- and if there’s no pregnancy sheds the lining of the uterus. Menstruation obviously comes with bleeding from the vagina, but it also comes with fun side effects like bloating, tender breasts, cramps, headaches, fatigue, and back pain. Menstruation is often viewed as isolated to the uterus and vagina, but its actually a full body experience. And menstruation can also effect your piercings as well! So today we are going to take a closer look at the way menstruating can effect your piercings, both old and new ones!
Getting pierced on your period
Many clients wonder, can I be pierced on my period? This question comes up the most when in regards to genital and nipple piercings, but can apply to any. So- can you get pierced on your period? Yes, totally! But being pierced on your period may come with a few extra considerations you want to plan for.
You may be feeling more sensitive on your period and pain may feel a little more intense. If that’s a concern for you, I would wait for your cycle to end to be pierced. This is mostly a factor for genital and nipple piercings, but if you are very sensitive on your period or already in pain from cramps or aches, it may make your piercing feel more uncomfortable. If you are planning a genital piercing while on your period, make sure to bring a fresh tampon, pad, or cup for afterward. You don’t want to leave the same products with old blood and bacteria on near a fresh body piercing. If you tend to experience more severe issues in the area you plan to be pierced, I would consider waiting. For example if you get serious acne breakouts around your mouth on your period and you currently have some where you want a lip piercing- I’d wait. Or I’ve had clients who become dramatically swollen in the breasts on their period and incredibly tender to the touch- if that were the case I would maybe hold off on nipple piercings!
Some uninformed piercers will say you can’t be pierced on your period, particularly genital piercings, and this is simple misinformation. This line of thinking comes from believing that period blood is inherently “dirty” or “unclean”. It’s not- its blood just like anything else. You may have more sensitivity during your period, and you may experience more swelling and discomfort. You’ll also need to be on top of changing your period products to avoid letting blood and fluids sit against the fresh piercing. But as long as you are on top of that it’s perfectly ok to get a piercing while you are on your period. Doctors do surgery, exams, and procedures all while clients are menstruating. A piercing is totally fine. I would consider it a red flag if a piercer didn’t understand how to work around a menstruating client or made rude comments about it.
Menstruation and healing piercings
Now it makes sense that being on your period at the time of piercing may effect the piercing. But what about piercings you’ve already gotten that are still healing? Are those effected? Well, yes! Like we mentioned about your period is often a full body event- the hormones happening during your cycle can effect your entire body. Piercings that are still healing may flare up and get swollen, feel tender or irritated on your cycle. They may even start to get irritation bumps. At the beginning of your cycle estrogen and progesterone will drop, which can make your sebaceous glands secrete more fluid. This is often why some folks get acne on periods, and for still healing piercings it can mean more secretions, and more oily skin in the area. This can cause irritation even to piercings that had been healing perfectly before! The increase in secretions may mean you need to clean your piercing a little more often than you were. Sometimes they are effected indirectly- if you have a hard time sleeping with cramps and headaches you may toss and turn, and thus may sleep on healing ear piercings causing irritation. Some clients experience their healing piercings getting grumpy around their cycle every single month, others notice this only for the first few months and then never again. And still others have this happen only ever once or twice, and the rest of the time they are fine. Bodies are unique, fickle things that rarely ever follow any set rules or structure. But if you notice your piercings flaring up or behaving differently around your cycle, it’s entirely possible its related to your cycle.
Nipple and genital piercings are often effected more so the other piercings when you are on your cycle. If you are prone to swollen and tender breasts on your cycle, then your nipple piercings may swell as well. I’ve had clients who needed to swap to longer jewelry specifically for their cycle and also wore a size larger bra on their cycle- that’s how swollen their breasts became! If you notice your nipples swell or become irritated in time with your cycle, ask your piercer about longer barbells, or other things you can do to assist with that. Anti inflammatories, cool compresses, and looser bras and shirts often help clients feel some relief with irritated nipple piercings on their cycle.
Genital piercings may become swollen and tender on your cycle, and if they are still healing you’ll want to be extra on top of keeping things clean and sanitary in the area. I personally love menstrual cups for this, as they are easy to change in and out with clean hands, and it keeps blood and fluids from collecting around the piercing. If you prefer pads or tampons, change them with a bit more frequency if you have a healing piercing, and ensure pads aren’t putting pressure on still healing piercings. Tenderness is normal, and if they are tender and swollen be extra careful with any toys or sexual interactions around the healing piercings.
You may be thinking- well surely my healing piercings will be fine, they are healed! But even healed piercings can be effected on your cycle. Sometimes the effect is direct-
-swollen tender breasts and swollen tender nipple piercings
-acne breakouts from hormone levels causing acne around piercings and irritation
-bloated, swollen stomach and a swollen, tender navel piercing
But sometimes it is indirect
-headaches and night sweats causing sleep difficulties and tossing and turning- waking up with tender irritated ear piercings from being slept on.
-Cramps and fatigue keeping you from keeping up with your care and cleaning, meaning plugs got irritated from not being washed often enough.
-pads catching or snagging jewelry causing piercings to become irritated.
Everyones bodies experiences menstruation and your cycle differently. Some people may never notice their period has any impact on their piercings. Others may lament that time of the month because all piercings fresh and healed act up. Everyones body is different, and everyones experience of their cycle will be unique to them as well. It’s also important to remember that factors like new birth control, different medications, hormonal changes, and any factors that impact your cycle may impact your piercings as well. Changing birth control, stopping it, or missing a few days can change the hormone balance in your body, and in turn have an effect on your piercings. If you notice things looking or feeling abnormal, reach out to your piercer for assistance! Menstruation is a perfectly normal, usual element of human life. But it can also effect our piercings, and sometimes in ways we wish it wouldn’t!